57th annual Junior Science and Humanities Symposium takes place virtually for the first time ever

The Southeast Michigan Regional Junior Science and Humanities Symposium is sponsored by the National Science Teachers Association, and the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force
The Southeast Michigan Regional Junior Science and Humanities Symposium is sponsored by the National Science Teachers Association, and the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force

Twenty three high school students turned STEM researchers presented their findings at the Southeast Michigan Regional Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS) virtual program, sponsored by the National Science Teachers Association, and the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force. Since its inception in 1958, the primary aims of JSHS are to promote research and experimentation at the secondary school level and to recognize students for original research achievements. Participation in the symposium is free for all eligible high school students and their teachers. The symposium is a valuable resource for students who plan to participate in science fairs and/or Science Olympiad. Students who present their research at the JSHS have the opportunity to receive significant scholarships at the regional and national levels.

On February 26, 2021, presenters discussed their research via Zoom hosted by the Wayne State University College of Education. In addition to presenting their research, students attended a video-tour of the newly renovated STEM Innovation Learning Center, and interacted with peers and professional science researchers throughout the day. Participants were welcomed with opening remarks by Dr. Tonya Matthews, associate provost for inclusive workforce development. The Symposium proceedings were led by Dr. Sandra Yarema, Regional Director for the Southeast Michigan JSHS, and director of undergraduate studies and teacher certification programs in the college. The Keynote address was given by Dr. Philip Pellet, professor and chair of the Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology & Immunology in the Wayne State University School of Medicine. Pellet discussed “Finding My Path,” to recognize teachers who were instrumental in his development, and described his own journey while living as a scientist and exploring the international world of virology. Participants were also addressed by Ms. Astha Dalal, a JSHS finalist alumnus who participated in both regional and national JSHS in 2017, 2018, and 2019, and was awarded third place for her research at national JSHS in 2019. Ms. Dalal is pursuing Pre-medical studies and continuing her STEM research as a freshman at Michigan State University.

This year, the top three regional finalists were awarded scholarships, paid directly to the college or university of their choice upon enrollment. The top five regional finalists are invited to attend the national JSHS, taking place virtually from April 14 -17, to compete for additional scholarships in 8 research categories: Environmental Science, Physical Science, Chemistry, Biomedical Science, Medicine & Health Behavioral Sciences, Engineering & Technology, Mathematics & Computer Science, and Earth/Space Science.

The regional finalists, determined by two rounds of oral presentations were: 

  • 1st place ($2,000): Michelle Hua, grade 10 from Cranbrook Schools for "Dilated Silhouette Convolutional Neural Network for Human Action Recognition"
  • 2nd place ($1,500): Jasmine Wu, grade 11 from Troy High School for "Modeling Michigan West Nile Virus Cases Amid Climate Change"
  • 3rd place ($1,000): Vivian Yee, grade 12 from International Academy for "A Novel Epidemiological Approach to Exploring the Implications of Social Determinants of Health on COVID-19 Spread: A Call to Action for Health Equity"
  • 4th place: Aryan Singh, grade 10 from Troy High School for "Hyperglycemic Conditions Impair Lung Epithelial Innate Response to Klebsiella Pneumoniae Infection"
  • 5th place: Mikul Saravanan, grade 10 from Cranbrook Schools for "Smart Robot to Purify, Humidify and Disinfect the Air"

Prizes at National Symposium will be awarded for participation in (for all 8 categories):

  • Oral Presentations:
    • 1st Place $12,000
    • 2nd Place $8,000
    • 3rd Place $4,000
  • Poster Presentations:
    • 1st Place: $1,000
    • 2nd Place: $800
    • 3rd Place: $600

Adjudicated regional poster session awardees were:

  • 1st Place ($300): Aanchal Jain, grade 11 from Okemos High School for "Upregulation of EMP2 and PID1 Cell Proliferation Genes in Lung Cancer"
  • 2nd Place ($200): Margaret Yang, grade 11 from Cranbrook Schools "Assembly Efficiency of Multi-scaffolded Enzyme Assemblies (mSEAs) on Yeast Cell Surface for Direct Conversion of Biomass to Ethanol"

Poster presenters are eligible for a cash prize, solely at the regional level, in addition to gained experience engaging in STEM research activities.

For additional information, email Dr. Sandra Yarema JSHS director at Wayne State University, or call (313) 577-5754. For details about scholarship, awards, and the national JSHS, please visit www.jshs.org

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